The Dalai Lama delivers an address on March 10, 2011.
The Dalai Lama delivers an address on March 10, 2011. STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images
Apparently he can - at least as political head of the Tibetan state in exile. He'll keep his other job as Tibet's spiritual leader. Tenzin Gyatso, also known as the Dalai Lama, gave his annual address on the Tibetan National Uprising Day, saying he wants Tibetans to vote for a new leader:
During the forthcoming eleventh session of the fourteenth Tibetan Parliament in Exile, which begins on 14th March, I will formally propose that the necessary amendments be made to the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, reflecting my decision to devolve my formal authority to the elected leader.
He says it's in keeping with democracy and standards of an open society.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of inciting violence among Tibetans to fight Chinese control of their province. And Padma Choling, China's appointed governor of Tibet, told Reuters the Dalai Lama can't hand power to an elected leader because Tibetan Buddhism requires the Dalai Lama be reincarnated after his death.
Meanwhile, China's Xinhua news agency cited three Tibetan lawmakers who called the Dalai Lama's decision 'merely another lie, trick and political show'.